All entries for July 2005

July 29, 2005

The psychology of habit

Having a long conversation with my lovely boyfriend last night, we stumbled upon a subject neither of us know much about, but that we seem to disagree on.

Are the things you do on a daily basis stimulated purely by habit or by a conscious recognition of the reason behind them? Justin used the example of brushing your teeth. He argued that the action is entirely stimulated by your ingrained habit of having performed it repeatedly for years upon years. I would be inclined to disagree and suggest that it is in part a result of you consciously recognising that you haven't cleaned your teeth. But I really don't know. Hmmm

July 28, 2005

Fundamental religion… an addendum

Further to Chris's comment on my last entry, the following debate does indeed seem interesting:

(To paraphrase) If we accept the possibility that the Bible may not be literally the word of God, are our laws defined by a Christian moral code or is the Christian moral code defined by a set of pragmatic civil rules?

July 19, 2005

Fundamental religion?

What would our notion of good and evil be if we had no religion? Would we still have an innate sense of right or wrong as human beings? Or are our morals so fundamentally based on religion that very few people living in the Christian world can truly say they are not religious.

July 18, 2005

Personality predictions

According to an article in New Scientist (yeay – a lack of study and rehearsals means I'm actually having time to read!) your tendancy to be religious is at least partly dependent on your genetic makeup. This flies in the face of the previous nurture over nature evidence which suggested that the religious beliefs of children were proportional to those of their parents. The evidence was derived from a study examining the differences between identical and fraternal twins: identical twins showed far more similarity in adulthood.

Despite my keenness as a biologist to understand the origins of our physical and mental capabilities and characteristics and to be able to use this knowledge to alleviate the suffering of many with genetic diseases I worry that we could go too far. I think I fundamentally disagree with the screening and termination of embryos on the basis of relatively minor genetic diseases. Some of the most interesting and intelligent children I've met have been those with Asperger's or autism and one of my best friends at school has a brother with Down's Syndrome and he's one of the happiest and most genuine people I know.

It worries me slightly that we are getting into the realms of predicting fundamental character traits. Will we reach a point when we can predict with a defined level of certainty what our children are going to be like physically AND mentally? And will this not be restrictive and take much of the mystery out of life and parenthood?

July 2005

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